13 Jul 2007

Analyzing the July 4 Zawahiri Video

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Fred Burton and Scott Stewart, at Stratfor, take a hard look at Ayman al-Zawahiri’s recent 90 minute video released July 4.

Posted by NOTR.

Excerpt:

Al-Zawahiri notes that the battles of the “crusaders and their slaves” (referring to the Muslims who cooperate with the United States and its Western allies) have expanded to the “doctrinal and moral fronts.” He also says the “Ummah is currently facing a deceptive propaganda war from the Americans and their agents.” These are references to the ideological war Stratfor has discussed as the only way jihadism can ultimately be defeated.

Clearly, al Qaeda also sees the attacks against its ideology as a significant threat. In fact, al-Zawahiri says, “I would like to remind everyone that the most dangerous weapons in the Saudi-American system are not buying of loyalties, spying on behalf of the Americans or providing facilities to them. No, the most dangerous weapons of that system are those who outwardly profess advice, guidance and instruction …” In other words, al Qaeda fears fatwas more than 500-pound bombs or cruise missiles. Bombs can kill people; fatwas can kill the ideology that lies at the root of the problem.

Al-Zawahiri also laments specific fatwas issued by clerics declaring that the jihad in Iraq is not obligatory and who forbid young Muslim men from going to Iraq. To counter these fatwas, al-Zawahiri plays an audiotape of Azzam (while a photo of Azzam is shown), in which Azzam comments on how jihad is the individual duty of every Muslim. Al-Zawahiri then urges Muslims to ignore such fatwas and scholars: “O youth of Islam, don’t listen to them, and I convey to you the mujahideen’s commanders’ mobilization of you, so hurry to Afghanistan, hurry to Iraq, hurry to Somalia, hurry to Palestine and hurry to the towering Atlas Mountains.” He also rails against the “religion traders in Iraq and Afghanistan to deem as haram (forbidden) the jihad against the invaders.”

One reason the al Qaeda leadership is so threatened by these ideological attacks is that neither bin Laden nor al-Zawahiri has any Islamic scholarly credentials. Many Muslims do not believe they possess the training and authority to issue a fatwa. …

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